Toward the Bridge of San Luis Rey
One can feel an ill-wind blowing these three Anglo-centric democracies toward some terrible climax. Like those unfortunate folk in the story of the “Bridge of San Luis Rey” by Thornton Wilder, where individual circumstances bring these five people to meet their fate upon the collapsing bridge in Peru.
“This story centres on a [fictional] event that happened in Peru on the road between Lima and Cusco, at noon on Friday, July 20, 1714. A bridge woven by the Incas a century earlier collapsed at that particular moment, while five people were crossing it.”
It is an exploration of the interconnectedness of apparent strangers. A kind of “six degrees of separation”. It could be used as a metaphor for the connected cultural links of our three Anglo-centric democracies – Britain, the USA, Australia – where it is becoming quite weirdly apparent that even though we are unconnected specifically, there are similarities of behaviour, politics, bigotry and racism being acted out socially and politically at the same time, and with the same intensity by the same political players.
One can feel us being brought to the edge of a kind of precipice, squabbling and wrestling dangerously close to social disaster with whispers of civil war and military solutions in the air, or at least some threats of vicious reprisals.
One has to wonder on the reason these three Anglo democracies are experiencing similar tribulations at the same time. Could it be because all are in the grip of conservative/right-wing governments, while much of the more stable democracies have centralist governments?
If we look to Europe, while there is still a healthy degree of dissent, the governments, being centralist/centre-left do have stability, even dear old Italy, notorious for a habit of changing governments, has, for all its reputation, stable governance. The major superpowers of Asia have stable government … we may not approve of their choice, but they are stable. Many Asian nations have domineering/authoritarian but for the most, stable administrations. Sure, there are a percentage of crazies in the mix, and we won’t even think about the Middle East! … but not really more than usual. So why are our three Anglo-centric democracies going off the rails?
In all three we have seen a pattern of domineering mainstream media (MSM) control, with the ruling conservative parties feted by at least one major media player. That same media player has become notorious for outright bias toward the right-wing, either through scurrilous scandal mongering, outright lying or bullying the public broadcasters through political interference. That is the one distinctive pattern at play. There are other connections, such as the lobbying of vested interest groups to swing government policy to speculative profiteering by certain donor companies. And there is the corporate affiliations to many members of the conservative parties in the House, where corporate profit is directly beneficial to actual politicians framing policy for the pertinent corporations.
There is, of course that age old influence of white supremacy, played out with the racial/religious profiling of political decisions. This can be through preferred refugee selection and treatment, Indigenous patronising or exploitation through faux concern for welfare direction … and, of course, the divide and rule policy toward religious/atheist ideologue.
If we look to the Anglo/Euro influence, we can hear the faint echoes of an Enoch Powel speech, or the thundering rhetoric of Mussolini or Hitler, sure, tempered with a soft guilt, yet still displayed with a “I told youse so” vitriol. Especially in Australia or the USA. Both a long way from the up-close and in your face visuals of the 2nd WW. Where the public horror was less emphatic through photography and memory. At such a distance from the battlefront, the sense of smell is neither affronted nor lingering and connected to the memory to be brought suddenly and shockingly to the front by a flash-back moment.
But what can we expect, when conservative leadership along with a compliant MSM has been more concerned with using the tools of hatred, divide and rule and even the most blunt weapon of straight treason to create dissent, disorder and resentment within certain demographics of the community? It is not as if they have no example; we can see their instructors on any given media platform reproducing moments from the fascist states of the second world war. Sometimes almost word for word, if not deed for deed imitation. The shame, dishonour and disgrace of such actions seems to fall from their psyche like Autumn leaves to the ground, leaving these mummers of a theatre of horrors untouched nor unfazed by guilty conscience or accusation of social pariah.
Trump, May and the Turnbull/Abbott cabal in power in the three Anglo-centric democracies of the west, have a lot to answer for. The first is their use and encouragement of the Murdoch media in all three nations to heap slander upon lie and outrage to fan the flames of discontent and hatred less toward an outside threat, than toward the citizens and guests resident within their own borders. The ultimate objective being to encourage a new kind of militant citizen group that could commit violent acts toward those most vulnerable or most susceptible to profitable propaganda.
Yes, there is a feeling of being drawn toward a moment of destiny, an approaching storm of vile confrontation with our troubling inner hatreds and seething resentments. We will have to address these resentments within the next one or two terms of governance. If Labor gain office the next election, they will have little choice but to put in place a rolling tribunal to look very closely at the interconnections between big corporations, big media, white-supremacist groups and conservative politics.
There will have to be an investigation into these things, because it is easy to see we are slowly and inexorably being tugged, as with a rope around our necks, tugged and pulled toward a very dangerous place … pulled unwillingly if not unwittingly toward zero.